Benefits to bet on: breast-milk shipping

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The rising benefit–which allows new moms to pump during a business trip, then ship the milk home overnight in a pharmaceutical-grade cooler, at no cost to them–is niche, to be sure. But it can have a big impact on the retention of new moms. According to Ovia Health, one in three women does not return to her job after giving birth, and stress about pumping at work is the second-biggest reason women don’t return to their job after maternity leave. Though a breast-milk-shipping benefit can be pricey per employee, most employers who have the benefit don’t have a significant number of employees who use it, so the cost is usually low. And the benefit has proven to be valuable for its users.

“Because it is so hyper-personalized, it’s something that those who take advantage of it really, really appreciate,” says Jason Russell, director of North America total rewards at SAP America. (SAP began offering the benefit in 2017.) “It’s acknowledgement on the part of the employer and HR leadership that we realize that, just because you’re coming back to work, your identity as a mom doesn’t stop.”

Beyond the employees who use it, the benefit can also positively impact a company’s culture at large, Russell says. “When your culture doesn’t support a working mom–or working dad, for that matter–and doesn’t acknowledge the fact that [workers] have other competing priorities … that’s a huge loss.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.